Analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for complex disorders usually identify common variants with a relatively small effect size that only explain a small proportion of phenotypic heritability. Several studies have suggested that a significant fraction of heritability may be explained by low-frequency (minor allele frequency (MAF) of 1–5%) and rare-variants that are not contained in the commercial GWAS genotyping arrays (Schork et al., Curr Opin Genet Dev 19:212, 2009). Rare variants can also have relatively large effects on risk for developing human diseases or disease phenotype (Cruchaga et al., PLoS One 7:e31039, 2012). However, it is necessary to perform next-generation sequencing (NGS) studies in a large population (>4,000 samples) to detect a significant rare-variant association. Several NGS methods, such as custom capture sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing, are designed to screen a small proportion of the genome, but most of these methods are limited in the number of samples that can be multiplexed (i.e. most sequencing kits only provide 96 distinct index). Additionally, the sequencing library preparation for 4,000 samples remains expensive and thus conducting NGS studies with the aforementioned methods are not feasible for most research laboratories. The need for low-cost large scale rare-variant detection makes pooled-DNA sequencing an ideally efficient and cost-effective technique to identify rare variants in target regions by sequencing hundreds to thousands of samples. Our recent work has demonstrated that pooled-DNA sequencing can accurately detect rare variants in targeted regions in multiple DNA samples with high sensitivity and specificity (Jin et al., Alzheimers Res Ther 4:34, 2012). In these studies we used a well-established pooled-DNA sequencing approach and a computational package, SPLINTER (short indel prediction by large deviation inference and nonlinear true frequency estimation by recursion) (Vallania et al., Genome Res 20:1711, 2010), for accurate identification of rare variants in large DNA pools. Given an average sequencing coverage of 30× per haploid genome, SPLINTER can detect rare variants and short indels up to 4 base pairs (bp) with high sensitivity and specificity (up to 1 haploid allele in a pool as large as 500 individuals). Step-by-step instructions on how to conduct pooled-DNA sequencing experiments and data analyses are described in this chapter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-314
Number of pages16
JournalMethods in Molecular Biology
StatePublished - 2016


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • NGS
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Pooled-DNA sequencing
  • Rare variants


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